Lightlife Plant Protein Foods


I had the opportunity to sample Lightlife Plant Protein Foods through Moms Meet. These products are “meat made from plants.” They have plant-based protein products such as hot dogs, sausages, deli slices, Chic’n, breakfast ‘meats,’ ‘beef’ products like meatballs and ground crumbles, burgers, and (my favorite) tempeh.

Summer is hot dog season, so Lightlife Smart Dogs provide a meatless alternative for cookouts. Honestly, the hot dogs are not my favorite, but smothering them with your favorite toppings makes them tasty enough for an open-minded consumer. They do just fine on the grill. Smart Dogs are vegan, and each link has 7 grams of protein and only 50 calories.

The Lightlife tempeh is absolutely worth a try. Lightlife tempeh is high in fiber and plant-based protein, and it tastes slightly nutty. Tempeh is a go-to ingredient for a quick vegetarian meal. The Lightlife website has recipe ideas on how to prepare any of their products, including Orange-Ginger Glazed Tempeh.

I have found Lightlife at Whole Foods. Check availability in your area on the Lightlife website.

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product. 

U-Jam Fitness Class Review


U-Jam is my dance favorite class currently offered at the YMCA. (All time favorite was an African Dance class at the Alief Y.) For months, I spent my Friday afternoons dancing to hip hop and world music beats. Class time has recently changed at my Y, so I can’t make it as often.

So what exactly is U-Jam?

According to the U-Jam website:Houston YMCA

U-Jam Fitness® is an athletic urban dance fitness workout that combines dance and high energy music for a workout that is bound to get your heart rate up, your body moving, and make you work up a sweat — all while having FUN!

During an hour-long class, the instructor leads a warm up, a cardio dance workout, and a cool down. The choreography is generally not too complicated. The moves can be repetitive, and the instructor will often demonstrate the moves at a slower pace before picking it up (otherwise known as Level 1 and Level 2). There are higher impact moves like jumps, but modifications are shown. There are verbal cues to remind you about each move.

Each song is its own routine, and songs can be mixed and matched. So, the instructor can change up just one or two songs from week to week instead of introducing an entirely new hour of dancing. My instructor often asks if there are any song requests. Music varies from world beats to hip hop. Some of the songs featured have been Cry (Just a Little), Gasolina, Goin’ In, Party All Night, No Diggity, and You’re So Beautiful.

The class is mostly cardio, and the workout doesn’t slow down much once you are warmed up! (In my opinion, it’s a better cardio workout than Nightclub Cardio.) There are moves that can tone the lower body (squats), upper body (repetitive arm motions in the air), and core (twists, chest isolations, and pops).

I have only had this class with one instructor, and she’s really great. She is the best at giving cues that I’ve had during a live class. She’s also nonjudgmental and very good at making everyone feel welcome.

U-Jam instructors seem to have lots of opportunities for training. There are sometimes invitations to local master classes, and the instructor also has attended a national meetings. She wears U-Jam attire and is enthusiastic about the U-Jam experience.

Overall, this is a fun cardio dance class that is adaptable for different levels of fitness.

Here’s a playlist I found on YouTube featuring samplings of U-Jam classes:

Chicago City Pass Review


My husband recently attended a workshop in Chicago, and Trip and I were able to join him. David received three complimentary CityPASS books for Chicago.

CityPASS is available in twelve cities. With CityPASS, you pay a discounted rate and get tickets to different attractions in the city.

The Chicago CityPASS includes tickets to five attractions.

  1. VIP entry to the Shedd Aquarium
  2. Fast Pass to Skydeck Chicago
  3. VIP entry to the Field Museum
  4. Choice between VIP entry to Museum of Science and Industry OR Express Entry to 360 Chicago
  5. Choice between VIP entry to Adler Planetarium OR Fast Pass to Art Institute of Chicago

CityPASS prices vary by city, and there are adult and child rates. The adult coupon book also included more coupons for additional discounts. The coupons are dated and must be used within a specific time period. You do NOT tear out the coupons. Each location will do that. CityPASS is available online or at the attractions.

Using the CityPASS was a breeze! Many of the FastPass locations included a Fast Pass entry, so we could skip the lines. I kept the coupons in the books and handed them to the cashier at each museum. They each knew what the pass was and what it included.

The locations included in the CityPASS are excellent. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago (Sears Tower), and the Art Institute of Chicago are iconic Chicago institutions. I would have loved to go to the Museum of Science and Industry, but our hotel was a bit far and we just ran out of time. So, we went to the 360 Chicago experience. This was a bit repetitive after also going to the SkyDeck. But, we still had fun!


A CityPASS is great for travelers who want to visit multiple locations over a short time frame. You get tickets to great destinations at a discounted rate. I wouldn’t suggest it for people who have only a short time in a city or whose travel plans are uncertain. It would be exhausting to cram too many locations into a brief stay in the city. The coupons expire, so if you don’t use most of the coupons, the CityPASS loses its value.

Overall, I liked the Chicago CityPASS. I liked being able to skip lines, and the coupon included some nice perks at some locations (like movies at the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum and audio tour guides at the Art Institute). We visited some of the best destinations in Chicago with the CityPASS.

Shedd Aquarium

Field Museum

Tiger Scouts: Team Tiger & Tigers in the Wild


Team Tiger and Tigers in the Wild are two more required adventures for the Cub Scout Tiger rank.

Team Tiger requirements are:

  1. List the different teams of which you are a part.
  2. With your den, make a den job chart that shows everyone doing something to help. As one of the den jobs, lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a den meeting.
  3. Pick two chores you will do at home once a week for a month.
  4. Make a chart to show three ways that members of your Tiger team are different from each other.
  5. Do an activity to help your community or neighborhood team.

We usually follow the Tiger Den Leader Guide, and it has been so helpful. One of the suggested activities was a “Diversity Scavenger Hunt,” which was basically like one of those ice breaker games where the boys went around and tried to find another Tiger that fit different statements and have them sign the paper. It was more like a ‘differences’ scavenger hunt. Examples included finding someone who was wearing a watch, someone who has a dog, someone wearing a hat, and someone who has a brother.

I formatted a Tiger Den Job Chart, and we discussed as a den the different jobs that the boys could do during the meeting. I wrote those tasks on the chart. The names of each Tiger Scout was written on a clothes pin, so the boys could rotate through the jobs.

Our Tiger Den did two service projects. The Tigers did a collection of toiletries for a church food pantry. The boys made signs and placed collection boxes around the church. When the collection, the Scouts met at the food pantry and sorted the items. They also got a tour of the food pantry. Our second activity was a service project to support our chartering organization. The Tigers stuffed the Easter eggs for the church’s Easter egg hunt.

Tigers in the Wild requirements are:

  1. With your adult partner, name and collect the Cub Scout Six Essentials you need for a hike. Tell your den leader what you would need to add to your list if it rains.
  2. Go for a short hike with your den or family, and carry your own gear. Show you know how to get ready for rsthis hike.
  3. Assistant Den Leader pointing out wildlife to the Tigers

    Do the following:

    1. Listen while your leader reads the Outdoor Code. Talk about how you can be clean in your outdoor manners.
    2. Listen while your leader reads the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids. Discuss why you should “Trash Your Trash.”
    3. Apply the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace Principles for Kids on your Tiger den and pack outings. After one outing, share what you did to demonstrate the principles you discussed.
  4. While on the hike, find three different kinds of plants, animals, or signs that animals have been on the trail. List what you saw in your Tiger handbook.
  5. Participate in an outdoor pack meeting or pack campout campfire. Sing a song and act out a skit with your Tiger den as part of the program.
  6. Find two different trees and two different types of plants that grow in your area. Write their names in your Tiger handbook.
  7. Visit a nearby nature center, zoo, or another outside place with your family or den. Learn more about two animals, and write down two interesting things about them in your Tiger handbook.

Finishing this loop has been a struggle. We’ve had so much rain in the area that the Pack’s spring camp out was rescheduled and then ended early on the rescheduled dates. We also had to reschedule our Den’s hike outing. When we did meet for a hike at a local nature preserve, there were so many mosquitoes! Insect repellent is definitely one of our den’s hiking essentials. Our Pack is holding its final pack meeting outdoors to help our Tigers truly meet requirement five. Other than the rain and mosquitoes, the Tigers had fun being outside and learning about local wildlife and trees.

Tiger Scouts: Tiger Bites & Backyard Jungle


The Tiger Den completed the “Tiger Bites” Adventure Loop. This loop is about recognizing healthy eats and emphasizing good manners and is required for the boy to progress to the Tiger rank.

The requirements are:

  1. Identify three good food choices and three foods that would not be good choices.
  2.  Show that you know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. Eat one of each.
  3. With your adult partner, pick a job to help your family at mealtime. Do it every day for one week.
  4. Show you can keep yourself and your personal area clean.
  5. Talk with your adult partner about what foods you can eat with your fingers. Practice your manners when eating them.
  6. With your adult partner, plan and make a good snack choice or other nutritious food to share with your den.

    Finding Timmy is always one of Trip’s goals when we’re at Trader Joe’s!

Number 1 was completed during a scavenger hunt at the wonderful Trader Joe’s of the Woodlands. The boys searched the store with their adult partners for good food choices and less healthy (but-oh-so-yummy) choices, found foods they’ve never seen before, and identified foods from local sources. Trader Joe’s was a great choice for a grocery scavenger hunt. One, the store has tons of variety, but it is also smaller and easier to navigate than a huge supermarket. Two, the staff at Trader Joe’s was terrific! They were so kind to the boys, and each Tiger got a sweet swag bag of healthy snacks.

They’ve also completed the “Backyard Jungle” Loop. It is also a required loop for the boys to advance to a Tiger rank. The requirements of this loop are:

  1. Take a 1-foot hike. Make a list of the living things you find on your 1-foot hike.
  2. Point out two different kinds of birds that live in your area.
  3. Be helpful to plants and animals by planting a tree or other plant in your neighborhood.
  4. Build and hang a birdhouse.
  5.  With your adult partner, go on a walk, and pick out two sounds you hear in your “jungle.”

There are lots of opportunities to observe nature in our community. Still, as a Den Leader, I was a bit intimidated when I read the requirements for this loop…specifically because of requirement 3. Plant a tree with first graders?! But, this turned out to be such a valuable project. The Den’s Assistant Den Leader and I each went to a local Arbor Day celebration with our families, where the township handed out tree seedlings for free . We kept the seedlings until it was time for the den outing to plant them. My co-leader checked on local regulations on planting trees, and the Tigers planted the seedlings along a hike-and-bike trail. (Thanks to the Woodlands Township for donating thousands of trees to the community every year!)

The Woodlands Township Mascot, Puffy Pine Cone, at the Arbor Day Celebration.

Trip’s Birdhouse. The Den used a classic idea…made a birdhouse out of a cleaned milk jug.


Leslie Sansone Walk to the Hits All Time Favorites Review


I received a complimentary copy of Leslie Sansone’s Walk to the Hits: All Time Favorites* for lesliereview. Associate links are marked (*).

In Walk to the Hits: All Time Favorites*, Leslie Sansone declares, “I want you to get excited about getting fit!” If you’re motivated by music, Sansone’s Walk to the Hits series might be a fun choice for you!

All Time Favorites includes three miles of indoor walking. The menu allows you to complete a single mile or do the entire workout. Don’t feel bad if you only have time for a mile. Sansone says, “Anytime you want to do a mile at a time, it’s fine.”

The workout includes a fun soundtrack, including “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Let’s Twist Again,” and “Knock on Wood.”

The workout includes familiar moves like marching in place, forward kicks, and knee raises. “HIIT” (High Intensity Interval Training) is incorporated into the workout, but overall, the sessions would only be high intensity for true beginners.

The first mile is 20 minutes and includes the warm up. There is a short burst of higher intensity moves with impact (like jogging in place).

The middle mile is 13 minutes. This workout features “Let’s Twist Again,” and no surprise twisting is included in the workout! Once again, there are moves that are described as “HIIT” but are not that high intensity.

Mile three includes is 20 minutes and includes that cool down. Higher intensity  moves include bounces and jogging in place.

Sansone is–as usual–enthusiastic. She has a constant smile on her face, and she really seems to enjoy walking with the crew.

The menu allows you to do the workout with Sansone’s instruction or with music only. Unfortunately, you can’t build a workout (like just doing warm up, Mile 2, and cool down). The back of my copy of the DVD says the workout alternates five minute speed segments with 12-minute HIIT Sessions, but this breakdown is not entirely accurate.

This is the kind of workout you can do without getting discouraged by complicated choreography. It is perfect for a beginner looking to start adding some higher-intensity moves and for music lovers looking for some light cardio.

My Friend Eric Rohmann at Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum


The traveling exhibit, My Friend Eric Rohmann, is on display at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Trip and I were in Omaha over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit family. We went to the Joslyn the day after Thanksgiving. It was a fun visit!

The Joslyn has added a great kids’ area, Art Works. It is a drop-in “place for curiosity.” There are stations to make stop-motion animation, digital paintings, still-life drawings, and other hands-on activities.


Making a short animation movie

The artwork of Eric Rohmann is displayed in two hallway galleries near Art Works. This is another exhibit organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas.

There are delightful animal illustrations from Rohmann’s works, including illustrations from the wonderfully wordless, Time Flies*. (The dinosaur illustrations have made this one of Trip’s favorites!) We discovered some new favorites, like the squirrels in Last Song and the jungle animals of Oh, No!*


“Last Song”

The books were nearby, so they could be read to grandparents (in Trip’s case). Pages with displayed illustrations were marked.

The exhibit is at the Joslyn until January 3, 2016. It is included with the free admission.

*Affiliate links